For the last three years we have been testing some of the various seed mixes available on the market which claim to be good for pollinating insects. Last year we added a new mix we found in France, whose contents was a mystery because the packet did not say much beyond its claim to be good for bees and butterflies. We sowed in an area which gets shade for most of the afternoon and last year, it was mainly just green leaf with a few poppies and some nice malva sylvestris.
This year has be very different; from late spring it began to send up leafy clumps which I initially thought was the dreaded dock which plagues much of the site, but then the clumps began to send up tall spires and eventually we found we had a bed of wonderful blue chicory. Amongst the chicory we have teasels, wild carrot and greater knapweed, all flowering at between 70 to 180cm high.
The bumblebees love the knapweed and the honeybees charge between the chicory flowers all morning until the blooms shut a they do every afternoon - it strictly a morning spectacle.
We are delighted with this 'surprise' mix and even more so that, assuming we can work out how to cut the woody mass back at the end of the season, it should be perennial.